Wednesday 1 March 2023

In February 2021 Sue Stockdale featured in a blog, to share her excitement about the prospect of rising to new challenges as a Trainee Advanced Nurse Practitioner (ANP).

Two years on, and now a newly qualified ANP at NIHR Manchester Clinical Research Facility (CRF) at Wythenshawe Hospital, Sue has shared further insights on her research journey and ambitions for her new role.

When I set out on this journey to become an ANP, I could visualise how the addition of an ANP at the CRF could help improve service delivery through increased capability and capacity, ultimately resulting in more patients accessing clinical trials.

Looking back as a Research Nurse Manager in the CRF, embarking on my Master’s in Advanced Clinical Practice at Bolton University, this multi-professional role attracted many different professionals to the course. This included paramedics, physiotherapists, pharmacists, nurses and dieticians. All had the desire to expand their skill set and practice more autonomously.

The two days a week academic course was associated with the clinical practice within my own area. However, I also linked with other clinical areas to expand my knowledge and skills across different specialities. This allowed me to learn from qualified ANPs in a variety of disciplines and explore and understand the scope of their roles. In particular, I was able to gain insight into how some areas had utilised the skills of ANPs to change the way they deliver their service smoothly and efficiently. These areas embraced the role of the ANP, ensuring there was support in place when senior clinical advice was necessary.

As for the ANP role in research, this appears to be gaining momentum and interest.

“Both as a trainee and a qualified ANP, I meet regularly with the national research ANP forum where ideas, problems and solutions are shared. This group has been a great support to me as a trainee and I feel this will continue through my new stage as a newly qualified ANP. The forum provides a fantastic opportunity to share examples of how the ANP role is beneficial.”

At the UKCRF Network Conference 2022 in Bournemouth, and alongside other research ANP colleagues, I was able to share my training experience and discuss the benefits of the role. I was overwhelmed by the amount of interest from clinical research nurses and operational managers considering the addition of this role in their research facilities.

Sue Stockdale at the UKCRF Network Conference 2022
Sue Stockdale at the UKCRF Network Conference 2022

As a qualified ANP, I can now clinically assess and consent patients, order investigations and prescribe on clinical trials. This provides an opportunity for me to see and treat a trial patient from start to finish, , allowing for  a smooth and efficient patient visit. Clinical practice is one of four pillars that underpin the ANP role and my role enables me to fulfil this to its fullest.

ANPs are a fairly new role in research, which presents both challenges and possibilities. Study sponsors that link in early with sites to discuss the ANP role can help to steer ethics approvals to consider the ANP as a welcome addition to the clinical team.  For example, discussing how the ANP can perform the physical examination and consent for a particular trial. This can also help the ANP to establish the appropriate level of sub-investigator responsibility for a study.

“I am excited to have taken on my first sub-investigator role, where I will be responsible for the clinical review and safety of patients, as well as performing specific tasks. Being able to take on the role of sub-investigator is a positive sign that I am developing into the role that I have been working towards.”

I am excited and ready to set myself new challenges and bring together all the skills and knowledge that I have gathered during the last two years. Working within the CRF, I am constantly delivering on the research pillar of my ANP role. However, I am excited to see how the academic side of my research journey progresses and how my role develops in supporting the CRF activities that fall under the other three pillars of the ANP role: education, leadership and management, and research.